x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A pearl from the sea that tastes just like foie gras or caramel

"Pearls" of brown seaweed extract, in 30 colours and flavours, among them foie gras, will soon be on sale in the UAE.

DUBAI // Ask someone to describe the taste of seaweed and they are unlikely to answer "foie gras".

But that is the aim of the creators of a new type of "flavour pearl" that will soon be on sale in the UAE.

The pearls, made from brown seaweed extract, come in 30 colours and flavours, including foie gras, soy and tomato caramel. Fifteen of them were on show last week at the Gulfood event in Dubai.

"It's like fruit caviar," said Christine Le Tennier, the manager of the brand Christine Le Tennier Creativ'Food from France. "Here, we are in the world of molecular gastronomy where you present all the products differently to be innovative."

Used on sushi, ice cream, cakes or even in drinks, the pearls are jelly spheres made using alginate, a starch-like substance found in the cell walls of the seaweed Laminaria.

"The main function is decoration, because you eat first with your eyes and the second is taste when the pearls explode in your mouth, giving you an intense flavour," said Ms Le Tennier. "It's an accompaniment to your dishes."

She believes the aromatic potential of marine vegetables is diverse.

UAE residents will be the first in the Middle East to get their hands on the pearls, which will initially be sold through hotel chains. A 50g jar will cost between Dh48 and Dh73.

Ms Le Tennier is confident the business will boom here.

"It's a convenient product, chefs or consumers don't have to make it and they can use it whenever they need to because it's very easy," said Ms Le Tennier.